It was the second evening of The Elizabeth Boardmore One Act Play Festival on Wednesday night and I was there to catch all the action at the CBU Boardmore Playhouse. This festival is a great place for young playwrights to learn and practice their craft and this night was no exception. We saw two young writers expose their work and thrill us with what they could do. They were two very different plays and they entertained the audience in very different ways.
Up first was Her Body written and directed by Kyle Capstick. This was Capstick’s second year producing an original play in the festival. His writing has really come a long way. The play was about a princess but, not really. Well, it would be later on, sort of. The story opened with three characters. There was Nathan, played by Paul Bickerton and Alex, played by Nicole MacDougall and, last but not least was Julian, played by Stephen McIsaac. These are three young and talented actors more then up to the task of tackling Capstick’s words. The play took place on a beach with Bickerton’s character being the focus of what seemed to be either a dream or a memory or maybe just a thought. What was nice was it didn’t force you to agree with what it was, it left you room to decide on your own. McIsaac’s character introduced Bickerton’s character to skinny dipping and MacDougall’s character dreamed of romantic picnics and falling in love.
As the play rolled on, you noticed that Bickerton’s character only interacted with the others one at a time and the other two never crossed paths. They were two different lives to him, almost two different points of view or two different choices he had to make. He loved them both was all we really knew. And through all of this, it kept going back to the ocean and how it connected them all.
The set was great. It was a few cylinders and blocks painted and covered to look like an abstract beach and it had several different levels to it that the characters perched on. My only complaint was that I would have liked to see them use it even more then they did.
The characters were directed nicely by Capstick, having them flow from scene to scene with ease. He made nice choices of spotlights and the actors knew where they were going and made it look so polished. Since you only get one night to do this show, they made it look like they were running it for weeks before we saw it. It was a pleasure because Capstick’s words were like poetry and you could hear everything out of these three actors. It is wonderful to see young actors project to the back row and you never missed a line.
MacDougall was so confident on stage, as always and she really commanded the stage with her character. She seemed to know what she wanted and was really going after it. It worked great with the story. McIsaac played to the softer edge of Bickerton’s character and contrasted MacDougall nicely. Bickerton reacted perfectly with what they offered him. This was a great little play that really captured what this festival is all about. Well done!
Now on to the second play of the night, Earth’s Last Days written by Kristen Woodford and directed by Kimberly Charron. This play took us in a whole new direction and showed how diverse this festival can be. The plot of this show is much easier to describe. Aliens are going to blow up the earth and it is up to a small group of average (or below average) humans to protect it. Woodford writes very well for this style of comedy and you may remember her script from last year’s Zombies Versus Robots.
Woodford seems to love spoofing popular sci-fi movies and does a great job of it. What I really like about her script is that she makes it as fun and silly as possible, but manages to squeeze in some really smart one-liners that catch you off guard. Every now and then, you hear a character say something that makes you think about how people really are this crazy in real life. There was one particular relationship in the play were Martha (played by Woodford) refused to go out with a boy, who loved her, simply because she assumed that nobody could ever love her and anyone who would, would have to be crazier then she was.
It was neat how she brought little aspects of life out of a story that could just as easily be aliens blowing things up for fifty minutes. There were a lot of characters in this story and a lot of scene changes. It was written to be as big as possible. The first scene opened with two aliens, Marr and Zok, standing at a computer with earth on its radar. I liked that Charron directed this play to be as colorful as can be. The costumes were great. Three fingered aliens with crazy hair and ray-guns is hard not to like. The aliens, played by Connor Charron and Matt Babstock, were very funny and played off each other well. I noticed that they did miss a few lines and stumbled a few words, but all in all they kept the energy going and were very fun to watch. Greg Woodford played a very funny character as the Father. He made me think of every cheesy parent in every science fiction movie from the ‘50s and ‘60s. He always came on stage with energy and the audience loved him. Another stand out character was Jillian, played by Allison Haley. Jillian, after the explosion, could only speak in disconnected words and was hilarious to listen to.
I wasn’t a big fan of the set. It took place in a living room for most of the play and the set pieces seemed to all be in a straight line and didn’t leave for any interesting use of the space, but there was lots of colour and interesting sound effects that kept the show moving. This show was a lot of fun and I always look forward to the surprises Woodford has in store for us. She is a very smart and funny writer and is not afraid to write what she loves. Great job!
Friday night is the last night of the festival, so make sure you make it out to see Black Jack 4: The Homecoming written and directed by James F.W. Thompson. The festival awards will be handed out as well. Showtime is at 7pm at the Boardmore Theatre.